Turkish Women Fight Back

honor-killing-protest-pakistan-HP_0When the story of Ozgecan Aslan came to light, the first reaction was shock. A young woman got on a bus, and was murdered by her would be rapist. Just for fighting back.

The mutilated burned corpse of the 20 year-old psychology student was too horrible to contemplate. How had something like this happened?

But then the shock gave way to anger. Women started to share stories of what had happened to them. Stories ranging from catcalls to molestation, to rape and to the cold indifference of the police. Since Erdogan’s Islamist government took power in 2003, violence against women has skyrocketed.

A new report says that 40% of women suffer domestic violence. Those are just the reported figures. The real ones are doubtless much higher.

Erdogan’s Turkey has been turning a blind eye to the suffering of women, even encouraging it. Erdogan is on record as saying, to an audience of women’s rights activists “I don’t believe in equality between men and women.”

His harsh unyielding Islamism, whilst it claims to favor women, has no time for any woman outside of a subservient conjugal role. But women have been fighting back. Taking to the streets, protesting and demanding that the government listen and take action to combat the epidemic of sexual violence against women.

Turkey is not the only place where women suffer. Across the world women are harassed, raped and abused every day. Patriarchy is not unique to any one country or religion and negatively affects women and girls worldwide.

But with the government not on the side of women, things get so much worse. When police officers and judges are influenced by a sexist understanding of the role of women and blame female victims rather than male perpetrators, cases like the murder of Ozgecan Aslan take place.

It could happen anywhere.

Right now it’s happening in Turkey and women there have made their voices heard in opposing the institutionalized sexism that goes hand in hand with Islamism.